True Love
123 Pages
English
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True Love's Reward

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123 Pages
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The Project Gutenberg eBook, True Love's Reward, by Mrs. Georgie SheldonThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it,give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online atwww.gutenberg.netTitle: True Love's RewardAuthor: Mrs. Georgie SheldonRelease Date: December 23, 2004 [eBook #14427]Language: English***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK TRUE LOVE'S REWARD***E-text prepared by Juliet Sutherland, Mary Meehan, and the Project Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading TeamTRUE LOVE'S REWARDA Sequel to MonabyMRS. GEORGIE SHELDONAuthor of Virgie's Inheritance, A True Aristocrat, Trixy, Lost APearle, Helen's Victory, etc.1891CHAPTER I.A NEW DISCOVERY DEEPENS A MYSTERY.When Mrs. Montague entered her room, an hour after Mona went up stairs, there was a deep frown upon her brow.She found Mona arrayed in a pretty white wrapper, and sitting before the glowing grate reading a new book, while shewaited for her."What are you sitting up for, and arrayed in that style?" she ungraciously demanded."I thought you would need help in undressing, and I put on this loose wrapper because it was more comfortable than anyother dress," Mona answered, as she regarded the lady with some surprise, for she had never before quite so curtlyaddressed her.Mrs. Montague did not pursue the subject, and Mona patiently assisted her in taking off her ...

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The Project Gutenberg eBook, True Love's Reward, by Mrs. Georgie Sheldon This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net Title: True Love's Reward Author: Mrs. Georgie Sheldon Release Date: December 23, 2004 [eBook #14427] Language: English ***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK TRUE LOVE'S REWARD*** E-text prepared by Juliet Sutherland, Mary Meehan, and the Project Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team TRUE LOVE'S REWARD A Sequel to Mona by MRS. GEORGIE SHELDON Author of Virgie's Inheritance, A True Aristocrat, Trixy, Lost A Pearle, Helen's Victory, etc. 1891 CHAPTER I. A NEW DISCOVERY DEEPENS A MYSTERY. When Mrs. Montague entered her room, an hour after Mona went up stairs, there was a deep frown upon her brow. She found Mona arrayed in a pretty white wrapper, and sitting before the glowing grate reading a new book, while she waited for her. "What are you sitting up for, and arrayed in that style?" she ungraciously demanded. "I thought you would need help in undressing, and I put on this loose wrapper because it was more comfortable than any other dress," Mona answered, as she regarded the lady with some surprise, for she had never before quite so curtly addressed her. Mrs. Montague did not pursue the subject, and Mona patiently assisted her in taking off her finery, hanging the rich dress carefully over a form, folding her dainty laces, and arranging her jewels in their cases. "Can I do anything more for you?" she asked, when this was done. "No." "At what time shall I come to you in the morning?" the fair girl inquired, without appearing to heed the uncivil monosyllable. "Not before nine o'clock; but you can mend that rip in my traveling suit before that, as we shall go back to New York on the eleven o'clock express." "Very well; good-night," Mona said, with gentle politeness, as she turned to leave the room. "Stop a moment, Ruth," Mrs. Montague commanded. Mona turned back, flushing slightly at the woman's imperiousness. "I have not been at all pleased with your deportment this evening," the woman continued, "You have been exceedingly forward for a person in your position." Mona's color deepened to a vivid scarlet at this unexpected charge. "I do not quite understand you—" she began, when her companion turned angrily upon her, thus arresting her in the midst of her speech. "I do not see how you can fail to do so," was her icy retort. "I refer to your acceptance of Mr. Palmer's attentions. One would have supposed that you regarded yourself as his equal by the way you paraded the drawing-room with him to- night." Mona could hardly repress a smile at this attack, and she wondered what Ray would have thought if he could have heard it. Yet a thrill of indignation shot through her at this unreasonable abuse. "You witnessed my introduction to Mr. Palmer this evening," she quietly replied; "you heard him offer to conduct me to Mr. Wellington, and so know how I happened to accept his attentions." "You should have rejected his offer," was the quick retort. "I could not do so without appearing rude—you yourself know that no young lady would have done so under the circumstances." "No young lady—no, of course not," interposed Mrs. Montague, with significant emphasis; "but you must not forget that your position will not admit of your doing what might consistently be done by young ladies in society. You received Mr. Palmer's attentions as a matter of course—as if you considered yourself his equal." "I do so consider myself," Mona returned, with quiet dignity, but with a dangerous sparkle in her usually mild eyes. The woman's arrogance was becoming unbearable, even to her sweet spirit. "Really!" was the sarcastic rejoinder. "Your vanity, Ruth, would be odious if it were not so ridiculous. But you should not allow your complacency, over a merely pretty face, to lead you into such presumption as you have been guilty of to-night. I blame myself somewhat for what has occurred; if I had not accorded you permission to witness the dancing, you would not have been thrown into such temptation; but I did not dream that you would force yourself upon the notice of any of Mr. Wellington's guests." "You are accusing me very unjustly, Mrs. Montague," Mona began, with blazing eyes, but the woman cut her short. "I consider myself a competent judge in such matters," she insolently asserted. "At all events, however, you are to receive no more attentions from Mr. Palmer. He—is the son of the gentleman whom I expect to marry, and I have no intention of allowing my seamstress to angle for my future step-son." "Madame—" began Mona, indignantly. "We will not discuss the matter further," Mrs. Montague interposed, imperiously; "you can go now, but be sure to have my traveling dress ready by nine o'clock in the morning." Mona went out, and forced herself to shut the door after her without making the slightest sound, although every nerve in her body was tingling with indignation and resentment, to which she longed to give some outward expression. But for one thing, she would have faced the coarse, rude woman, and proclaimed that she was already the promised wife of Raymond Palmer, and had a perfect right to receive his attentions whenever and wherever she chose. That secret of the desertion of her mother haunted her, however, and she was bound to curb herself and bear everything for three months longer, while she would diligently apply herself to the task before her. She retired immediately, but she could not go to sleep until she had relieved her overcharged heart of its bitterness and passion in a burst of weeping. The next morning early Ray and his father were on their way to New York, and ten o'clock found them seated in the private court-room, where Mrs. Vanderheck was to answer the charges against her. Money will accomplish a great deal, and in this case it had secured the privilege of a private examination, before a police justice, who would decide whether the suspected culprit should be held for the grand jury. Immediately upon the arrival of the Palmers, Detective Rider came to them, accompanied by a gentleman whom he introduced as Justin Cutler, Esq., of Chicago. They all took seats together, and presently a door opened to admit Mrs. Vanderheck, who was attended by her husband and counsel, and who was richly attired in a close-fitting black velvet robe, and wore magnificent solitaires in her ears, besides a cluster of blazing stones at her throat. If she was the adventuress whom the officials were searching for, she was certainly bringing a bold front to the contest in thus parading her booty before their very eyes. Her husband was an elderly gentleman, who appeared to be in feeble health, but who conducted himself with dignity and self-possession. The case was opened by Mr. Cutler's counsel, who told the story of the purchase of the spurious crescents in Chicago, and affirmed that they had been found upon the person of the party under arrest. Mrs. Vanderheck listened with intense interest throughout the recital, while a look of astonishment overspread her face as the narrative proceeded. The crescents were produced and Mr. Cutler brought forth the bogus ones, which he still had in his possession, and the two pairs appeared to be exact counterparts of each other. The magistrate examined them with interest and care, after which he placed them on the desk before him. Mrs. Vanderheck's counsel then said that his client would like to relate how the contested jewels came in her possession. Permission being given for her to do so, the lady took the stand and began: "Three years ago the coming month, which, according to the dates just given by the prosecuting counsel, was about three months after the gentleman in Chicago was defrauded, I was boarding at the Revere House, in Boston. While there I became acquainted with a lady—a widow who called herself Mrs. Bent, and her appearance corresponds with the description given of Mrs. Bently. I was very much pleased with her, for she seemed to be a lady of very amiable character, and we became quite intimate. She appeared to have abundant means, spent her money very freely, and wore several diamonds of great beauty and value—among them the crescents which were taken from me last Friday evening. About two months after becoming acquainted with her, she came to me one day in great distress and said that the bank, in which she was a large stockholder, had suspended payment, and all her available funds were locked up in it. She said she had considerable money invested in Western land, which she might be able to turn into cash later, but until she could do so she would be absolutely penniless—she had not even enough ready money to defray her hotel bill, which had been presented that day. Then with apparent reluctance and confusion she remarked that she had often heard me admire her diamond crescents, and so she had ventured to come and ask me if I would purchase them and thus relieve her in her present extremity, while she offered them at a price which I considered a great bargain. I said I would consult my husband. "I have a weakness for diamonds—I confess that I am extravagantly fond of them," Mrs. Vanderheck here interposed, a slight smile curling her lips, "and my husband has generously gratified my whims in this respect. He approved of the purchase of the crescents, provided some reliable jeweler would warrant that they were all right. I reported this decision to Mrs. Bent, and we went together to an expert to submit the stones to his verdict. "He pronounced them exceedingly fine, and valued them far above the price which my friend had put upon them, and I told her I would take them. We returned to our hotel and went directly to my rooms, where my husband drew up a check for a hundred dollars more than the stipulated price, Mrs. Bent giving a receipt for the amount, while she was profuse in her expressions of gratitude for our kindness in relieving her from pecuniary embarrassment. 'I shall go immediately to pay my bill,' she said, looking greatly pleased that she was able to do so, as she handed me the case containing the diamonds, and then she immediately left the room. Half an hour later she came to me again, her eyes red and swollen from weeping, an open telegram in her hand. Her mother was dying, and had sent for her, and she was going immediately to her. She took an affectionate leave of me and soon after left the hotel. This, your honor, is how I came to have the crescents and"—taking a folded paper from her elegant purse—"here is the receipt for the money paid for them." The lady took her seat after giving this testimony, while the receipt was examined by the police justice and Mr. Cutler's counsel. "I hope the lady has not been a victim to the same cunning scheme that served to defraud the gentleman from Chicago," he gravely observed. "You do not mean to imply that my stones are not genuine!" exclaimed Mrs. Vanderheck, with sudden dismay. "I am not able to say, madame," his honor courteously replied, "but I should like to have them examined by an expert and proved." Mr. Palmer here stated that he could settle the question if he were allowed to examine them. Both cases were passed to him, and after closely inspecting the crescents for a moment or two, he returned them, with the remark: "The stones are all paste, but a remarkably good imitation. I should judge that they had been submitted to a certain solution or varnish, which has recently been discovered, and is used to simulate the brilliancy of diamonds, but which, if the stones are dropped in alcohol, will dissolve and vanish." "Impossible!" Mrs. Vanderheck protested, with some warmth. "It cannot be that I have worn paste ornaments for more than three years, and never discovered the fact." "It is not strange that you were deceived," the gentleman replied, glancing at the glittering gems, "for I think that only an expert could detect the fact, they are such a clever imitation of genuine gems." "I cannot believe it," the lady persisted, "for Mrs. Bent was not out of my sight a moment, from the time the expert in Boston pronounced his verdict, until they were delivered to roe in my room at the hotel." "Nevertheless," Mr. Palmer positively affirmed, "the woman must have adroitly managed to change the crescents on the way back, substituting the bogus for the real ones, for these are certainly paste." Mr. Cutler's counsel here stated that his client had an important statement to make, whereupon that gentleman related that Mr. Arnold, the Chicago expert to whom the real crescents had been submitted, had made a private mark upon the setting, with a steel-pointed instrument, and if such a mark could be discovered upon Mrs. Vanderheck's ornaments they were doubtless real. He produced the card which Mr. Arnold had given him, and the crescents were carefully examined, but no mark of any kind could be found upon them, and the general conclusion was that they were but a skillful imitation of genuine diamonds, and that Mrs. Vanderheck had only been another victim of the clever adventuress, whose identity was still as much of a mystery as ever. Mr. Palmer and Ray now began to feel quite uncomfortable regarding the cross which Mr. Rider had also taken in charge. They consulted a few moments with Mrs. Vanderheck's counsel, and then the cross was quietly submitted to Mr. Palmer's examination. He at once said it did not belong to him, although it was very like the one that had been stolen, for he also was in the habit of putting a private mark upon his most expensive jewelry; and he further remarked that he very much regretted that Mrs. Vanderheck should have been subjected to so much unpleasantness in connection with the unfounded suspicion. The case was then dismissed without further discussion, and the lady behaved in the most generous and amiable manner toward both Mr. Cutler and Mr. Palmer. She said it was not at all strange that she should have been suspected, under the circumstances, and she bore them no ill-will on account of the arrest. She was only annoyed that any publicity had been given to the matter. She even laughingly accused Ray of having suspected her on the evening of Mr. Merrill's reception, and then she explained the cause of her own strange behavior on that occasion. She had read of the Palmer robbery and the circumstances of his being kidnapped, and she realized at once, upon being introduced to him when he had mispronounced her name, that his suspicions had fastened upon her. She shook hands cordially with Mr. Cutler, and remarked that, while she experienced some vexation and mortification over the discovery that the crescents were spurious, the imposition had taught her a lesson, and she should henceforth purchase her diamonds of a reliable dealer in such articles. "But," she added, gayly, "I shall never see a diamond crescent after this without asking the owner to allow me to examine it. I believe I shall turn detective myself and try to ferret out the original ones if they are still in existence." She bowed smilingly to the three gentlemen, and passed out of the room, leaning upon the arm of her husband. "Well, Ray," Mr. Palmer remarked, as they wended their way to the store, "we may as well give up our diamonds once for all; I have not the slightest hope that we shall ever see them again. If we ever do find them," he added, with an arch glance, "I'll present them to your wife on her wedding day—that is, if they come to light before that event occurs." "Then my wife is to have no diamonds unless the stolen ones are found?" Ray responded, in a tone of laughing inquiry. "I did not mean to imply that, my boy," Mr. Palmer responded. "I will present your wife with diamonds, and fine ones, too, when I am introduced to her." "Then I will give you three months in which to make your selection," Ray retorted, with animation. "Whew! you are hopeful, my son, or else you have had good news of your lady-love," the elder gentleman exclaimed, with surprise. "You are a sly dog, and I thought you seemed happier than usual, when you came to Hazeldean. You must tell me more about it when you have time. But three days will be time enough for my selections for your wife, and she shall have the stolen ones also, if they are ever recovered." Mr. Rider was the most disappointed one of the whole party, for he had been so sure of his game; while he had been doggedly persistent for over three years in trying to hunt down the tricky woman, who had imposed upon Justin Cutler, and it was a bitter pill for him to swallow, to discover, just as he believed himself to be on the verge of success, that he was only getting deeper into the mire. "She is the keenest-witted thief I ever heard of," he muttered, moodily, when the case was dismissed, "but if I could only get track of some of the Palmer diamonds there might be some hope for me even now, for I firmly believe that the same woman is at the bottom of all three thefts." He would not take anything from Mr. Cutler for what he had done or tried to do, although the gentleman offered to remunerate him handsomely for his labor. "I've earned nothing, for I've accomplished nothing," he said, dejectedly. "I feel, rather, as if I ought to pay your expenses on from the West, for it's been only a wild-goose chase." "I had other business, aside from this, which called me to New York, so don't feel down at the mouth about the trip," Mr. Cutler kindly replied. "I am going to remain in the city for a few weeks, then I go to Havana to meet my sister, who has been spending the winter in Cuba for her health." The same week Mrs. Vanderheck appeared at a select ball, wearing more diamonds than any one had ever before seen upon her at once; but after that one brilliant appearance it was remarked that she was becoming more subdued in her tastes, for she was never again seen in New York with such an expensive display of gems. CHAPTER II. A STORMY INTERVIEW. After their return from Hazeldean, Mrs. Montague seemed to forget her spite against Mona. Indeed, she was even kinder than she had ever been. Mona quietly resumed her usual duties, and was so faithful and obliging that the woman apparently regretted her harshness on the night of the ball, and was very considerate in her requirements, and verified what Mary, the waitress, had once said, that she was a kind mistress if she wasn't crossed. On the morning after their arrival in New York, Mona wrote a note to Ray, related something of what had occurred, and suggested that it might be as well not to antagonize Mrs. Montague further by being seen together while she remained in her employ. She told him where she would attend church the following Sabbath, and asked him to meet her so that they could talk over some plan by which they might see each other from time to time without exciting suspicion regarding their relations. Mr. Amos Palmer called by appointment upon Mrs. Montague on Wednesday evening, following the return from Hazeldean, when he formally proposed, and was accepted. When, on Thursday morning, the triumphant widow announced the fact to her nephew, he flew into a towering passion, and a bitter quarrel ensued. "You have promised me that you would never marry," he cried, angrily; "you have pledged your word that I should be your sole heir, and I swear that you shall not give me the go-by in any such shabby fashion." "Hush, Louis; you are very unreasonable," said his aunt. "I believe that it will be for your interest as well as mine that I marry Mr. Palmer, and because I simply change my name, it does not follow that you will not be my heir. You know that I have no other relative, and I mean that you shall inherit my fortune. If you will marry Kitty McKenzie immediately. I will settle a hundred thousand upon you outright." "But I don't like the idea of your marrying at all—I vow I won't stand it!" the young man reiterated, and ignoring the subject of his own marriage. "I suppose you have reasons for wishing to change your name," he added, with a sneer, "but you must not forget that I know something of your early history and subsequent experiences, and I have you somewhat in my power." "And you are no less in mine, young man," his companion sternly retorted. "It will not be well for you to make an enemy of me, Louis—it will be far better for you to yield to my plans gracefully, for my mind is fully set on this marriage. Can't you understand that as the wife of a man in Mr. Palmer's position, nothing that has ever been connected with my previous history will be liable to touch me. Mrs. Richmond Montague," with a sneering laugh, "will have vanished, or become a myth, and Mrs. Palmer will be unassailable by any enemies of the past." "Yes; I can fully understand that," her nephew thoughtfully replied, "and perhaps—Well, if I withdraw my objections, will you let me off from any supposed obligations to Kitty McKenzie? Truly, Aunt Marg," with unusual earnestness, "I don't want to marry the girl, and I do want to marry some one else; give me the hundred thousand and let me choose my own wife, and we will cry quits." "Louis Hamblin, I believe you will drive me crazy!" cried Mrs. Montague, growing crimson with sudden anger, "What new freak has got into your head now? Who is this some one else whom you wish to marry?" "That girl up stairs—Ruth Richards, she calls herself," the young man answered, flushing, but speaking with something of defiance in his tone. "Good gracious, Louis! you cannot mean it!" she exclaimed, aghast. "I told you I would have no nonsense in that direction. Does she, Ruth, suspect your folly?" "Only to toss her head and turn the cold shoulder on me. She is in no way responsible for my folly, as you call it, except by being so decidedly pretty. You'd better give in, Aunt Marg—it'll be for your interest not to make an enemy of me," he quoted, in a peculiar tone, "and it will make a man of me, too, for I vow I love the girl to distraction." Mrs. Montague uttered a sigh of despair. "I was afraid you'd make a fool of yourself over her, and now I shall have to send the girl away. It is too bad, for she is the only expert seamstress I have had for a year," she said, tears of vexation actually rushing to her eyes. "No, you don't," the young man retorted, flaming up angrily; "don't you dare to send her away, or I swear I will do something desperate. Besides, the girl doesn't care a rap for me, but she is dead gone on young Palmer; and if you drive her away, the next you'll know she will forestall you in the Palmer mansion." Mrs. Montague grew pale at this shaft, and sat for several moments absorbed in thought. "I thought that he was in love with Walter Dinsmore's protégée, Mona Montague," she at last remarked, with a bitter inflection. A peculiar smile flitted over Louis Hamblin's lips at this remark. But he quickly repressed it, and replied: "So I heard and thought at one time; but he was deeply smitten with Ruth the night of the Hazeldean ball, and never left her side after refreshments; they sat in the balcony, half concealed by the draperies, until after one o'clock." "You don't mean it!" Mrs. Montague exclaimed, with a start and frown. "Then the girl is more artful than I thought; but, on the whole, I'm not sure but that I should prefer to have Ray Palmer marry Ruth Richards rather than Mona Montague—it might be better for me in the end. I wonder where she is. I am almost sorry—" She broke off suddenly, but added, after a moment: "I don't know, Louis—I am somewhat perplexed. If, as you say, Ray Palmer is so deeply smitten with Ruth he must have gotten over his penchant for the other girl. I will think over your proposition, and tell you my conclusion later." An expression of triumph swept over Louis Hamblin's face, but quickly assuming a grateful look, he remarked: "Thank you, Aunt Margie—if you'll bring that about I'll be your loyal slave for life." Mrs. Montague's lips curled slightly at his extravagant language, but she made no reply to it. Presently, however, she asked: "When are you going to attend to that matter of business for me? I do not think it ought to be delayed any longer." "Blast it! I am tired of business," responded her dutiful nephew impatiently, adding: "I suppose the sooner I go, though, the quicker it will be over." "Yes, I want everything fixed secure before my marriage, for I intend to manage my own private affairs afterward, the same as before," his companion returned. Louis laughed with some amusement. "You ought to have been a man, Aunt Marg; your spirit is altogether too self-reliant and independent for a woman," he said. "I know it; but being a woman, I must try to make the best of the situation in the future, as I have done all my life," she returned, with a self-conscious smile. "Well, I will look after that matter right away—get your instructions ready and I will be off within an hour or two," said the young man, as he rose and went out, while Mrs. Montague proceeded directly to her own room.